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SEA@MIA: Ozuna hits a three-run blast, adds to lead

Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna batting back to back in the Marlins' lineup always seemed to be in the cards. As the two outfielders rose through the Minor League ranks together, they hit first-second or second-third at nearly every stop.

Low A Greensboro, Class A Jupiter, Double-A Jacksonville. The same situation.

"It's something that's not really new for us," Yelich said. "It's kind of just continued up here."

Yelich and Ozuna will attempt to keep it going on Friday against Mets starter Zack Wheeler, who has three quality starts in his four 2014 outings.

So far, the pairing is paying dividends for Miami. Yelich is batting .329 (28-for-85) with 15 runs scored and a career-best 17-game hitting streak, and Ozuna sports a .309 (25-for-81) average with 10 RBIs and 12 runs scored through the first 22 games.

With Yelich and Ozuna getting on base, the lineup is producing. Giancarlo Stanton leads the Majors with 27 RBIs, and four Marlins have already reached double-digit RBIs. Justin Ruggiano was the only Miami batter to drive in 10 runs last April.

Ozuna enjoys trying to get on base ahead of run producers like Stanton, Casey McGehee, Garrett Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He has seen a lot of fastballs so far this season.

"Hitting second, I like it because you can see more pitches, you can take in more at-bats," Ozuna said. "Then I put the RBIs to Stanton behind me, and that's a good thing."

Ozuna is comfortable batting second, and Yelich said he has no problem hitting at any spot in the lineup as his mindset is simply to "get on base." However, Miami manager Mike Redmond envisions Yelich as someone who will clear the bases down the road.

"I see him probably more hitting in the middle of the order, like a three-hole guy or something like that kind, as he matures as a hitter and gets more and more experience," Redmond said. "But with his speed and the way he gets on base and the quality of at-bats he has, he could be an everyday leadoff guy, for sure."

Aside from a three-run fifth inning in which he allowed three consecutive doubles, Wheeler was stellar in his most recent start against the Braves in a game the Mets would win, 4-3, on Curtis Granderson's walk-off sacrifice fly in the 14th inning.

Formerly a highly touted prospect, Wheeler has fanned exactly six batters in three of his four starts, while striking out 21 batters in 23 1/3 innings. He's faced the Marlins once in his career, allowing two runs in seven innings while earning a no-decision.

Mets: Murphy providing consistency at the plate
• Second baseman Daniel Murphy has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games, batting .326 (14-for-43) with eight runs scored and just five strikeouts during the stretch.

He ranks second on the Mets with a .291 batting average, 11 runs scored, three stolen bases, 25 hits and four doubles.

• Eric Young Jr. has stolen 10 bases in 11 tries so far this season. Entering 2014, he had swiped just nine bags in 129 career plate appearances in April.

Marlins: Alvarez hopes to build on near no-no in last start
• Henderson Alvarez was masterful in his most recent start, giving up just two hits in a complete-game shutout of the Mariners on April 19 at Marlins Park. He needed just 90 pitches to get through the third complete game of his career.

Alvarez's sharpness reminded Redmond of the right-hander's no-hitter against the Tigers on the final day of the 2013 season.

"I thought it was pretty similar," Redmond said following Alvarez's last start. "I was thinking to myself, 'Man, he's executing his pitches and getting ground balls.' When he's doing that, it really shows the type of stuff that he has. The [velocity] was good. After that first inning, I felt like, 'Hey, he's got his good stuff tonight, and we've got a chance. We've just got to figure out a way to score some runs.'"

• Stanton has been intentionally walked six times this season, already surpassing his total of five last season.

Worth noting

• Granderson and Alvarez will meet for the first time as National League foes, previously playing against each other when Granderson was a Yankee and Alvarez pitched for the Blue Jays. Granderson is 3-for-12 with a double, an RBI, a walk and three strikeouts against Alvarez.

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